By Ian Truscott, VP Products for SDL Tridion
According to research carried out by Google and IPSOS , 64% of UK in-store consumers use their smart phones either to research the products they are looking at, or perform price comparisons with other retailers. To put these numbers into perspective, UK retailer Dixon Retail reported in-store revenue of £8.19bn for their financial year ending June 2012. This means that the in-store, smart phone wielding consumer contributed over five billion pounds to the bottom line of this retailer.
In fact Gartner predict that this year, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide. This means that whoever you are trying to engage with over the web, there is a good chance that a mobile device will be used at some point in a customer’s journey.
Having established that organisations have to do something about mobile, the next question is what?
There are a number of options for “going mobile” – should you produce a native app, deploy a responsive design to make your website look great on the small screen or something else? In order to help with this, I suggest considering the following six questions when developing your mobile strategy:
1.What task does your visitor want to do?
Taking a task orientated view of your website is considered to be a best practice. However, due to the limitations of a small screen and with less internet bandwidth, mobile visitors are usually even more task focused than someone using a desktop. You must also establish why they are on their mobile device – are they in-store, in the street looking for a branch or watching your commercial on the TV?
Defining the task is critical, as it enables you to decide what content you need to optimize for the mobile device or what e-services you need to mobilize.
2.What’s the frequency of the task?
Once you have understood what your mobile audience wants to do, considering the frequency of the task helps you decide if developing a native app is going to be worth the investment. From your consumers’ perspective, also consider if the convenience of accessing your content and services through a native app is going to out-weigh the investment it brings in in time and screen clutter?
Let’s take a banking example – how often would you use an app that locates your nearest ATM – compared to how often you check your account balance?
3.Could the task experience be enhanced using the phone’s capabilities?
The advantage of a native application developed for a specific smart phone and the mobile web, is that this app can access the device’s existing functionality, such as the camera or GPS. This provides a highly effective solution for infrequent tasks such as, making a car accident insurance claim. The app can take photographs of the car, GPS reports its location and a rich experience allows the drawing of vehicle positions. These functions considerably increase a customer’s ability to perform the task – easily and successfully.
4.How interactive is the experience?
Consider the capabilities of mobile devices to effectively render creative content, such as a game or other interactive experiences, for customer engagement. Fortunately, advances in using HTML5, provides options for rendering interactive mobile web applications. As this capability is becoming much easier to achieve, through the mobile web, it means that you are not restricted to just developing an app.
5.What devices do you need to support?
Clearly one of the limiting factors when developing a native application is that they are device specific – to best leverage the functionality of that device. Each application market place also has its differing deployment options and policies.
It sounds like a nightmare, so it’s important to get an insight into what devices your customers are using, so that you can prioritize against these. This insight could be as simple as looking at your web analytics and seeing what devices people are currently using to complete their online tasks with you.
6.What’s the cross channel experience?
Faced with overwhelming statistics for mobile adoption, you have no choice but to develop a mobile strategy. Like it or not, your audience will try and engage with you, your products, service and brand – with whatever device comes immediately to hand.
However, this multi-channel engagement is not just about the experience a customer has over a single channel, whether it’s mobile, email, website, Facebook or your call center. A customer’s impression of your organisation and that engagement will also be partially formed as they cross between these channels.
For example, after Angry Birds, email is probably the leading task people use their mobile device for. So, how does your email marketing campaign look if someone clicks on your carefully crafted ‘call to action’ in that email from their iPhone? Does it direct them to your nearest coffee shop – using GPS and an SMS voucher – or does it show a full webpage? If the customer pinches and zooms enough, will they find a voucher that can be printed?
In summary, think about why your audience is making the effort to engage with you – especially as they are probably squinting to see that tiny screen! Just make it easy for them and you’ll be successful.